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New IL bill would let police analyze gun buyers’ social media accounts

Iphone Displaying Social Media Application (Pexels/Released)
February 12, 2019

Illinois residents who want a gun license may have to surrender access to their social media accounts if a new Democrat-sponsored bill passes.

The point of the new bill is for police to look over the applicant’s social media accounts to see if there are any red flags that may prevent them from obtaining a gun license, Fox News reported.

Past mass shootings, including the recent Parkland High School shooting and the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting, later found red flag posts all over the shooters’ social media accounts, but they were bypassed.

The legislation would authorize police to conduct a search of a prospective gun buyer’s social media accounts in order to assess whether or not those accounts contain disqualifying information that would prevent them from obtaining a gun license, CNN reported.

In its current wording, the bill could also revoke gun licenses from current licensees.

One of the Democrats that is pushing the bill, State Rep. Daniel Didech, said, “A lot of people who are having mental health issues will often post on their social media pages that they’re about to hurt themselves or others. These people need help.”

Bills such as these are often criticized, as was the case when a similar bill was introduced in New York in 2018, however, it was eventually approved and is awaiting a vote.

“Everybody’s demanding that we take action before the next mass shooting event. It’s turned into a grassroots movement,” Didech said.

Illinois is no different, says Rebecca Glenberg of the ACLU, who opposes the bill. She argues it does not have any guidelines on what the police are allowed to do with the information they find on the applicant’s social media. Glenberg is concerned about potential First Amendment rights violations.

Glenberg said, “A person’s political beliefs, a person’s religious beliefs, things that should not play a part in whether someone gets a FOID card.”

She added, “It seems much more likely to end in profiling of people, rather than catching a possible school shooter.”

Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association said, “When people look at this everyone who has a Facebook account or email account, or Twitter account will be incensed or should be.”

Didech said the bill is a way for police to make sure that dangerous people are unable to acquire weapons.